Bayern Munich have raided RB Leipzig once again with the signing of Marcel Sabitzer on a four-year deal.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed on Saturday that the champions were working on a deal for the Austria international, and reports suggest he will cost approximately €16million.

Ordinarily Sabitzer would have been expected to fetch a significantly larger fee, but the 27-year-old – who joined Leipzig from Rapid Vienna in 2014 – has less than 12 months to run on his contract.

Sabitzer will link up once again with Julian Nagelsmann, who left Leipzig for Bayern at the end of last season, as did centre-back Dayot Upamecano.

The attacking midfielder enjoyed arguably his best season in Germany's top flight under Nagelsmann in 2019-20, scoring nine Bundesliga goals (none of which were penalties) and setting up another seven – though 12 players had a hand in more (excluding spot-kicks).

That season was also his best for chances created (59). Although that was only enough to rank joint-eighth for that metric, Sabitzer's 52 key passes from open play was bettered by just Thomas Muller (81), Kai Havertz (57), Jadon Sancho (55), Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner (both 53).

His output did decrease last term, managing just four goals (excluding four penalties) and three assists, while his chances created from open play nearly halved (28).

But that does not appear to have perturbed Nagelsmann.

Leipzig look set to pull of something of a coup in signing Sabitzer's replacement, with Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba expected to join.

Moriba, a technically gifted midfielder, broke into the Barca first-team set-up last season and went on to feature 18 times across all competitions.

On February 13 this year, he became the youngest player this century to provide an assist on his LaLiga debut at the age of 18 years and 25 days.

The teenager particularly impressed with his confidence and ability on the ball, with his average of 3.2 dribbles per 90 minutes across 14 league appearances bettered by only four team-mates.

His 2.8 completed dribbles every 90 minutes gave him a success rate of 89.3 per cent – granted, it is a small sample, but the only Barca player to attempt at least one per 90 minutes and boast a better completion record was Miralem Pjanic.

Barca had been very eager to tie Moriba down to a new contract, with his deal set to expire next year, but president Joan Laporta suggested the midfielder was being unrealistic regarding his renewal demands.

Laporta said Moriba would not feature for the first team without committing his future to the club and added that he would sold as soon as possible to avoid him leaving for free next year if an agreement could not be met.

Leipzig have seemingly used the situation to their advantage, though their reported €20m outlay is not insignificant for a player with just 14 top-flight appearances to his name.

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and no closer to re-signing in the French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly holding onto hope of securing his services before the end of the transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL DREAMING OF MBAPPE

Real Madrid have not given up on signing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Mbappe is into the final year of his PSG contract and while he has been tipped to make the move to Madrid, he has reportedly told friends he will remain in Paris.

However, LaLiga powerhouses Madrid – also linked with Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland – believe it is a strategy to secure a friendly exit from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in Monaco defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, say reporters Sacha Tavolieri and Jonathan Shrager. United have also been linked with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who is reportedly wanted by PSG and Madrid.

- RB Leipzig star Marcel Sabitzer is interested in a move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, claims Bild.

- Goal and widespread reports say Arsenal are close to signing Martin Odegaard from Madrid. Odegaard spent six months on loan at Arsenal last season.

Duvan Zapata is Inter's priority signing, according to Calciomercato. Despite signing Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries after Romelu Lukaku's, the Serie A champions are eyeing the Atlanta forward. Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, Joaquin Correa of Lazio, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst are other options.

- Italian journalist Sara Meini reports Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic amid their struggle to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham. Atletico Madrid and Spurs have also been linked with Vlahovic.

Juventus are nearing a deal to re-sign Miralem Pjanic from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve, according to Di Marzio, are also listening to offers for Weston McKennie.

Alphonso Davies is back for Bayern Munich, but Julian Nagelsmann has been hit by another injury blow ahead of his belated bow with Benjamin Pavard ruled out.

Nagelsmann will get his Bayern reign under way at Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Friday, having seen last week's DFB-Pokal opener against Bremer postponed due to coronavirus-related quarantine measures imposed on the lower-league side.

That time has allowed left-back Davies to recover, though, making a swift return from ankle ligament damage suffered on international duty with Canada last month.

Davies played only 23 league games last season but led all Bayern defenders in recoveries (201) and boosts a back line that will now miss Pavard due to a training-ground ankle setback of his own.

"Phonzie did quite well and made a good impression," Nagelsmann said in Thursday's pre-match news conference. "It is an advantage that he is a model athlete.

"He won't be able to play the full 90 minutes yet, but I already have in mind that he will start.

"We will see how far his legs carry him. He is definitely a candidate for the first XI. We're glad he's back.

"That [injury] with Benji is very, very annoying because he played a good pre-season. He's a player I've scheduled for his position. Now he's gone for a few weeks.

"When he comes back depends on the healing process. We don't know exactly how long.

"We have players in the squad like Bouna [Sarr], Niki [Sule] or Josip [Stanisic] who can replace him."

Pavard's absence will be particularly frustrating for Nagelsmann as he has identified the defence as an area in which Bayern must improve.

While Nagelsmann's RB Leipzig boasted the best record in the Bundesliga last term (32 goals conceded), Bayern shipped 44 goals – their most since 1995-96 (46).

It ultimately did not cost the champions as they picked up 22 points from losing positions, more than any other club, but their new coach insists this approach is not sustainable.

"This is a decisive factor that we want to improve," he said. "Nobody wants to always chase after a 0-2 deficit.

"We would do well to bring in more stability defensively. Defending always has to do with attitude."

Bayern have already made a change at the back, replacing David Alaba with Dayot Upamecano, but additional transfer activity may occur further up the field.

Nagelsmann acknowledged the Bavarian giants were currently reliant on "13 or 14 players" staying healthy, and they have been linked with Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer to add further depth.

"I know Marcel very well, I've worked with him for a long time," Nagelsmann said. "He is a very good player.

"Basically, we handle this, as in recent years, that we do not comment on rumours that are floating around anywhere in the transfer market."

Erling Haaland's future is a major talking point this off-season.

The Norwegian has been linked with several top clubs but could also stay with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland and his representatives visited Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Chelsea and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA TO OFFER UP TO £150M FOR HAALAND

Chelsea are readying a bumper £150 million (€175m) move to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports 90Min.

The Blues are prepared to offer up to that amount, believing the deal will be too hard to refuse for Dortmund.

Chelsea spent approximately £120m (€140m) last off-season on German pair Timo Werner and Kai Havertz but want an out-and-out striker.

 

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- New Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Brazil international Richarlison from his former club Everton, reports ESPN.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are still working on a deal to sign Chelsea's French veteran forward Olivier Giroud.

- RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer is in the sights of Borussia Dortmund according to Bild, amid reported interest from Premier League clubs.

West Ham and Tottenham are both interested in Sassuolo's Mert Muldur reports the Mail.

- Football League World claims Southampton will sign Blackburn Rovers forward Adam Armstrong for £10m plus add-ons.

With France out of Euro 2020, Kylian Mbappe has time to mull over his club future.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has been linked with Real Madrid.

Liverpool have reportedly entered the frame too, while PSG are eager to re-sign him.

 

TOP STORY - MBAPPE REACHES PSG DECISION

Kylian Mbappe has informed PSG he is not planning to sign a new contract, according to L'Equipe.

The 22-year-old France international does not currently want to extend his current deal which expires in mid-2022, the sports daily reported.

Mbappe will respect the final year of his contract with PSG as suitors circle for his signature.

 

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- Manchester United have agreed terms with Jadon Sancho and now have set their sights on West Ham's Declan Rice, Villarreal's Pau Torres and Tottenham's Harry Kane. The Guardian claims they are all on United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's wish list.

- Bild claims United are also interested in Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka, who has one year remaining on the his current contract.

- Son Heung-min is expected to sign an extension with Tottenham regardless of Kane's decision on his future, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Arsenal, Milan and Roma are all interested in RB Leipzig's Austria international Marcel Sabitzer who is set to be allowed to leave on a cut-price deal according to Bild.

- The Daily Mail reports Manchester City will open talks with Raheem Sterling on a new deal following Euro 2020 where he has starred with three goals for England. Sterling, who has two years left on his current deal, fell out of favour at City late last season.

Everton continue their search for Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

One emerging candidate has plenty of familiarity with Liverpool. 

Could the Toffees turn to a former rival? 

 

TOP STORY – BENITEZ IN MERSEYSIDE RETURN?

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has emerged as a strong contender to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report. 

As the Merseyside club's interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has faded, majority owner Farhad Moshiri apparently plans to speak to the 61-year-old Benitez. 

The Spaniard was Liverpool's manager from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005. He spent 18 months in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional before leaving by mutual consent in January. 

Others under consideration include Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter, former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have matched Paris Saint-Germain's offer of about €65million (£56.1m) to Inter for Achraf Hakimi, according to Sky Sport Italia, though Inter value the 22-year-old at €81m (£70m).

- Barcelona see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling as a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele should the France international depart, according to Sport, and Marca says PSG have interest in Dembele. 

- David de Gea seems inclined to extend his stay at Manchester United and expects to be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Dean Henderson, The Sun reports. 

- Atletico Madrid rejected United's £10m bid for England right-back Kieran Trippier, according to Football Insider. 

- Roma are close to completing their long-rumoured signing of Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

- West Ham would like to sign Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal, The Sun reports. 

- Tottenham have had discussions with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Marcus Thuram, RMC Sport reports, and The Athletic says Spurs could also be eyeing RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer

- Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has emerged as Spurs' preferred option to replace Jose Mourinho and the sides have discussed a three-year contract, the Guardian reports. 

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could be in the mix for the Crystal Palace opening, the Daily Mirror reports. 

Manchester United wanted Jadon Sancho ahead of the 2020-21 season.

But, United were unable to prise Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

United, though, are reportedly still pursuing the England international.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT SANCHO

Manchester United are lining up a bid for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Star.

United were heavily linked with Sancho at the start of the season but a move did not materialise, while the Red Devils have since been mentioned as suitors for fellow Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

But United have reportedly cooled their interest in Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich target Haaland as they make Sancho their top transfer priority.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Juventus have rejected a renewed effort from Barca to sign Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

- Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso, City defender Nathan Ake and RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer are on Jose Mourinho's list of targets as he prepares to take charge of Roma, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Corriere dello Sport also claims Lille midfielder Renato Sanches is wanted by Mourinho.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barca are continuing to chase Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravernberch. Barca have also been linked with Liverpool's soon-to-be free agent Georginio Wijnaldum, who has since emerged as a reported target for Bayern.

Chelsea are frontrunners to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham according to Football Insider. Kane has been linked with United, City, Barca, Paris Saint-Germain and Madrid, while Chelsea have also emerged as a possible destination for Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski.

RB Leipzig believe they are now in a Bundesliga title "duel" with Bayern Munich after closing the gap to two points with another win, this time at Hertha Berlin. 

With a draw at home to Arminia Bielefeld and then defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern have dropped five points this week since returning from the Club World Cup in Qatar. 

Those setbacks granted Leipzig an opportunity to re-enter a title race that had looked to be over - and Julian Nagelsmann's side capitalised with a 3-0 success at Hertha on Sunday. 

Leipzig have won all five of their Bundesliga away games against Hertha, although they only pulled clear of their hosts in the closing stages. 

Marcel Sabitzer's sublime long-range strike was all that separated the sides until the 71st minute when Nordi Mukiele added a second. 

Sabitzer and Mukiele had each committed errors leading to goals in the midweek Champions League defeat to Liverpool. 

There was then a clinching third courtesy of Willi Orban, moving Leipzig five points ahead of third-placed Wolfsburg while piling the pressure on Bayern. 

Sabitzer, who has 12 career Bundesliga goals from outside the area, albeit this was his first of 2020-21, told Sky Sport: "It was not to be expected that Bayern would drop five points.

"Now we have caught up the points, now there are only two. We are a bit clear of third place, so it's a duel. 

"It doesn't help to talk about it, we have to do it and stick with it week after week. Otherwise I can say something completely different next week and then everyone will laugh at me again." 

Nagelsmann added: "Of course, we're pleased to have moved back to within two points of Bayern. 

"Some teams behind us also picked up points, which makes the victory today even more important." 

Bayern, who have already lost twice in the Bundesliga in 2021 after a sole defeat last year, visit Leipzig on April 3.

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